Can a secure Windows 7 computer safely share an Internet connection of an unsecured Windows XP computer?
The answer is yes, if you’re careful and use the correct settings.
Shared connection without shared risks?
Reader Steven Stevenson wants to share a neighbor’s Internet connection but doesn’t want to endanger his own PC in the process.
- “I run a tight Windows ship. As advised in your newsletter, I apply all critical updates, update unsecured software found with Secunia, and use a firewall and real-time antivirus app. My neighbor’s computer, however, is unsecured. She uses pirated software (including Windows), and she won’t be talked out of it (sigh).
“She has a broadband connection and wireless router (with a comfortingly long passphrase, so it at least is secure) and has offered me free use of her ISP plan’s unused download allocation. I successfully connected [to her network] after springing for a U.S. $10 wireless networking card. I’ve tested the connection and intend to use it with Windows 7.
“Is there any extra security risk to my computer when connected to the Internet via the unsecured computer’s shared net connection? If so, will it help if I always use https at websites which allow it? Could my downloads become infected? Or am I safe to browse and download with impunity without worrying about the ‘host’ computer’s security?”
That’s not an ideal situation and might violate her ISP contract, but yes, you should be able to share that connection without undue risk.